I blame Facebook

So I’ve proven a shocking blogger, absobloggy shocking, and not wanting to shirk responsibility, I blame Facebook. I’d sworn never to sign up with Facebook because I knew I would become addicted and it would rob me of precious time spent writing another book, reading someone else’s, or just hanging out with my husband and our seven year old son building the latest Atlantis Lego Turbo Submarine together. But my publisher, publicist and agent all agreed: You just can’t be an author these days and expect to sell books without a Facebook page, a Blog and a Twitter account. So I gave the first two a try. If I was as funny and entertaining as Stephen Fry or Marieke Hardy every twenty minutes, I might have given tweeting a red hot go. But I’m not.

So, after three months on Facebook (including setting up a personal FB page in order to launch the professional Author’s Page) I’m only just coming up for air now. The Author’s Page isn’t the problem. (Quite the opposite – I love hearing from my readers and wish I could have them all over for lunch!) It’s the other one that traps me for hours and hours on end. I’ve lost weekends inside this enormous nonstop party on the ‘interweb’ as my mother once called it. If I’m not careful I can spend hours browsing through my Friends’ photo albums, reading their funny comments, adding my own, ‘liking’ their favourite YouTube footage of bewildered animals, or children who’ve consumed too much sugar… or both. And sadder still is that I seem to have taken Tom with me. Before FB (when I thought Zuckerberg was somewhere in Austria) Tom and I would actually speak to each other after dinner. Now we sit at our computers in separate rooms and post messages on each other’s walls even asking for cups of tea. It’s just not right.

Less time consuming but more confusing is the ‘friending’ business. When my good friend Annie kindly helped me get started, she sent some kind of mayday call out to her FB friends suggesting, if they knew me, that they befriend me, and in just one day my dance card went from sparse to bursting. I’d never witnessed such a tsunami of emails in my life. I thought my iPhone was going to ixplode! ‘Yes’, I kept answering. Confirm Angie! Confirm Nicki! Confirm Alan! Confirm Torville! (Torville? Who the hell’s Torville?) Confirm Di. Confirm Steven. What larks, Pip! And oh look it’s Pip! Confirm Pip.

The next day I was sitting on the Rafters‘ bed, as we sometimes do on the Rafters set, when one of my lovely colleagues (now a FB friend) congratulated me on my amazing popularity – having acquired over a hundred friends in one weekend! Somewhat sheepishly, I admitted that some of my FB friends I didn’t actually know…very well…or even… at all… (and asked if she’d ever heard of a Torville). We were discussing where one should draw the line when it came to accepting friend requests on Facebook.

‘Someone once said to me,’ she said, ‘that you should only be Facebook friends with a person you’d have coffee with.’

And was that what she did?

My friend nodded with the sagacity of someone who could sleep at night, who knew for sure that someone called Torville wasn’t now flicking through photos of her family frolicking half naked on a beach in Fiji last July. I liked the coffee test. It meant you didn’t have to keep changing your Privacy Settings. And then I began asking other people how they dealt with Friend Requests on FB? Some befriended only their actual friends, some included acquaintances as well, and others just went friend-crazy. As I watched more requests come in from people who’d ignored me at school, from actors I’d once auditioned with, from kind theatre ushers who’d possibly helped my mum to her seat and children of ex-employers, I began to panic. I was contemplating whether or not to send them a very polite thank you explaining my coffee rule, when I got poked.

“What do I do?” I asked Annie over the phone, hiding where my laptop couldn’t see me.

“Poke him back.”

“But I don’t even know him!”

“Well, look him up and see if he’s poke-back worthy.”

I did, and had not one clue who my Poker was, so decided not to.

Anyway people, this is why I’ve been such a lousy blogger. But now that I’ve got my social networking finally under some sort of control (and Tom knows that if I’m on Facebook for more than one hour he’s to come into my study and throw a bucket of cold water over me) I think the Blog’s going to get much more attention. Unless I have absolutely nothing interesting to say, in which case I’ll suggest we all read someone else’s!

… like Karen Powers’ for example!

Karen is the kind of contagiously inspired teacher librarian we need more of in our schools, and I know, cause my mum was a committed teacher librarian too. On her Big Bookcase website, Karen promotes reading for the love of reading, and her 10 Reading Rules to help turn your child into a reader is compulsory reading for every parent. (I especially appreciated Number 6, as I needed a gentle slap there…). She also regularly reviews and recommends books, and yes, I’d be recommending Karen’s Blog/Website even if she hadn’t said nice things about How Now Brown Frau. On this page.

Ok. Blogging off now. Thank you for your kind patience, and please come back for more soon. Or else stay and tell me about your Facebook experience, or how you get your children to read, and enjoy reading.







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Two Upcoming Events

Ok, so the first of these Sydney bookish events is at the Mosman Library this Wednesday, 2nd November. Please come along for a laugh as we discuss various misadventures I’ve had in brothels, on British book tours, and in Bavaria… with Bavarians. And I’ll be signing books if anyone wants one.

And the second is a Meet the Author evening next week, 10th November, at Vaucluse Public School. This one will be four for the price of one, as I share the stage with wonderful authors Nikki Gemmell, Karina Machado, and Kerri Sackville.

Please click on either of these events for details, and if you’re coming to the one at Vaucluse Public School, Berkelouw Books are providing copies for us to sign. I’ll be getting my signed copy of Nikki’s latest for sure.

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On the publicity trail…

Just went on Kerri-Anne and babbled my head off. Have new respect for television hosts who sit there calmly as the crew spin around them like orbiting planets, attaching mikes, adjusting hair, whispering in their ear, ‘We’re changing the order, Kerri-Anne. Segment four is now number seven, third after the break, ok?’ K.A. just nods, as if she can take that in while chatting to her next guest, me, whose book she probably got last thing yesterday afternoon. I know she’s going to start with the brothel, setting of my first book, and work her way through to my third book, How Now Brown Frau. Mustn’t let K.A. talk too much about sex workers, I mutter to myself, as I call her ‘Kerri’, and agree that the Germans can come across a bit dour, although ‘I wouldn’t put it like that’. ‘Fifteen seconds!’ a voice calls, and all I can think about is Jesus, Merridy, you just called Kerri-Anne “Kerri”, and suggested she lacked tact! ‘Ten seconds!’ Mustn’t talk too long about sex workers and first book. Am here to sell third book! Third book’s about Bavaria, not brothels. ‘Five seconds.’ And in two, three, hold two three, and out two three. Not dour… not dour…

Talked my Kopf off, mainly about sex workers, made very little sense, managed to mention my third book briefly at the end before being swiftly ushered out as they ushered in my replacement, an American comedian carrying an enormous stuffed bear. One day, I tell myself as my publicist Anna takes me downstairs for a coffee, past the previous guest, a gorgeous girl in nine inch heels who, despite looking about seventeen is apparently already an ex Miss Australia, ‘Bye Jacinta, lovely to meet you too!… One day, I tell myself, I’m gonna be good at this. ‘You were fine!’ everyone says. And look, I was. Barely told Kerri-Anne one thing about my latest book, but nor did I vomit on her. A cognitive behavioural therapist would say, ‘See? And nor did you hyperventilate, or die.’

And for that – I’m grateful. And also grateful to dear old Tassie, where according to my proud dad, my book has made it into the top ten, at number three. Woohoo!


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Auf Wiedersehen Hobart

I’ve had the best time in Hobart, not just catching up with family and friends, but doing publicity for my new book. Thanks so much to John Hale and the Hobart Bookshop for the great launch and to Chris Wisbey at ABC Radio for such a fun interview today. I’ve been telling everyone I have two homes, Sydney and Munich, but clearly it’s three.

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Hobart launch

Flying down to Hobart tomorrow for book launch on Friday (7th) at The Hobart Bookshop. Hurrah! Looking forward to seeing John Hale (who’s kindly agreed to smash the bottle over my head), Janet and Christopher, catching up with friends, going to Salamanca market on Saturday morning and hanging out with ‘the ancient ruins’ – dear parents. If the German hadn’t been so smitten with Sydney, we’d be living in Hobart and I’d be trying to get work at the Tasmanian Theatre Company… that’s if they hadn’t just lost their funding for their 2012 season. What kind of government of an island with more history, story-tellers and artists per square foot takes funding from its only professional theatre company? It’s a mystery.

Summer in Hobart… must pack woollies, ugg boots and ear muffs.

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And another thing …

Hello, and thank you for visiting my Blog. Have just come home from seeing The Book Of Everything at the Seymour Centre, and feel inspired (by writer Richard Tulloch and everyone involved in this magical Belvoir Street Theatre production) to write a play more than a blog. Would urge everyone to go see it but sadly it finishes tonight…

But tell you what begins on Monday! My book, that’s what! How Now Brown Frau will be in bookshops as of October 3rd, and please feel free, after buying a copy, to discreetly place another in the window display (if it’s not already there…) I’ve heard that most bookshops, understaffed as they are, actually appreciate such gestures. And placing copies at eye level on the shelves isn’t a bad idea either. Nor is holding up a copy at peak hour and shouting across the shop to your friend, imaginary or real, ‘Oh Marjorie, look! How Now Brown Frau‘s out! Forget Thai take-away! Let’s take this home and laugh our heads off!’

But if The Book Of Everything comes back for another season, don’t buy anything, not even my books, until you’ve seen this beautiful production.

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